Reflections from the IUPUI White House

By Diane Brown, IU Communications Specialist:

Sandra Petronio, Chancellor Charles R. Bantz and family dog Arabella.

Sandra Petronio, Chancellor Charles R. Bantz and family dog Arabella.

Soon IUPUI will be under new leadership. Chancellor Charles R. Bantz will pass the baton to Chancellor Nasser Paydar in mid-August.

As a communications specialist, I had the honor of being backstage at the inauguration of Chancellor Bantz and his wife, IUPUI first lady Sandra Petronio. It would be my baptism into the world of the pomp and circumstance that comes along with such Indiana University occasions.

My memories of that event focus on the dynamics of interactions among the extended Bantz family as they proudly celebrated the accomplishment of one of their own, while recognizing the tremendous responsibility inherent in the mantle Bantz was accepting.

Over the years, I have also had the privilege of attending the annual AO Building Holiday Party, hosted by Bantz and Petronio (and first dog Arabella) at Cedar Crest — the “White House,” so to speak, for IUPUI chancellors. It was a social event I always looked forward to attending.

Petronio at Ice Cream Social

Sandra Petronio at IUPUI Ice Cream Social.

With Cedar Crest under renovation, the Tobias House has been home for the Bantz/Petronio duo during their last few years at the helm of the state’s urban research university. With the approaching changing of the guard has come the organized chaos that is called moving as the family prepares to return to “civilian” academic life.

They have been “packing and unpacking nonstop,” Dr. Petronio said in one of the emails we exchanged in pursuit of this post. Despite those demands, she graciously agreed to set aside time — and energy — to address my questions about her time as first lady.

Here, in her own words, are those reflections:

I came to IUPUI as a faculty* member and in partnership with my husband, Chancellor Bantz. It was exciting to consider all the possibilities and, though I had experienced a few mid-level administrative roles in the academy, I looked forward to learning more about how the highest level of administration guided the growth and development of a campus. 

Jags versus Oral Roberts

Chancellor Bantz and Petronio cheer on the Jaguars.

One of the most memorable aspects of this new adventure was to discover a community devoted to IUPUI. In my experience, this was unprecedented. The people of Indianapolis and Indiana in general have committed much time and effort in all different ways, making both the Chancellor’s role and mine, as First Lady, an enjoyable endeavor. We found wonderful friends and appreciate the ability we had to work with them making the campus what it is today.

Further, I was and continue to be impressed by the students on this campus. They actively endeavor to use their experience to achieve goals they have set for themselves, motivating us to strive to do more for them. The same can be said of the faculty, Deans, and the Chancellor’s administrative team in their commitment to this extraordinary campus.

Sandra Petronio

Sandra Petronio

I am also very grateful for the opportunity to make a specific contribution to the faculty and students by working with the Chancellor to develop the focus on translating research into practice. It was clear that the IUPUI campus was a translational institution, but giving structure to the existing research programs under the rubric of translational science shifted the definition of the research enterprise occurring at IUPUI. This initiative, now a center, has been successful in celebrating and encouraging faculty to engage in translational research across the disciplines, strengthening, not only the knowledge base, but also producing research that improves lives in meaningful ways.

This has been an extraordinary experience and I feel grateful that I had the opportunity to make contributions to this exceptional campus. I am delighted to turn this role over to First Lady Niloo Paydar. Knowing the skills and perspective of First Lady Paydar, I am sure that she will find her path, making important and meaningful contributions that will carrying the campus forward. (Reflections of Serving IUPUI as First Lady (2003-2015),  Sandra Petronio)

*Sandra Petronio is a professor in the Department of Communication Studies and a senor affiliate faculty in the Charles W. Fairbanks Center of Medical Ethics, IUPUI.

Tags: , , ,